Five years ago I sat cross-legged on the living room floor eating Indian food with my fingers. My little sister was visiting me in Vermont and Anders and I had made it our mission to teach her as many bad habits as possible while having as much fun as possible. So, we made an Indian feast, and taught Maya how to eat Indian style. We scooped and slurped and giggled. When we weren’t eating with our hands on the floor, we were sitting on the kitchen counter chomping on apples and peanut butter, scrambling up mountains, rough housing, or shopping for fedoras. I was excited to teach her to cook and to love nature and I was excited to learn from her how to be silly, brave and unabashedly uncommon.
Two years ago Maya spent a week with us in Seattle. We hiked and swam and licked dripping ice cream cones while debating the merits of veganism. Maya was fourteen and I was unsure how to connect with her but I was excited to teach her about love and relationships, about healthy living and to see the world in all its complexity and I was excited to learn from her about living in the present and unbounded compassion.Two weeks ago my step-mom called and told me that Maya had committed suicide. I was shocked, horrified and sick to my stomach as Anders and I went about making travel plans. We flew to NY that night and spent a week attending services, sitting shiva, talking, crying, trying to understand and feeling a range of emotions including guilt, anger and frustration. When people express their condolences in person or in cards, they often say “there are no words” and I understand that it is difficult to know what to say in a situation like this and that sometimes silence is the best gift one can give, but I also feel that processing this tragedy with words both spoken and written has been helpful for me. I realize that I don’t often share such personal insights and that some of you prefer a more lighthearted tone, but I felt that putting my feelings about this tragic loss into words was a good way for me to process the grief and pain and a way to help lift the stigma of suicide by talking about it openly. Life can be difficult and the state of the world can seem hopeless, but life is a gift and the world is full of beauty, wonder and hope.
Maya was vibrant, smart and full of compassion for the world around her and I mourn for the tremendous impact she could have had on this earth. There is no doubt in my mind that she would have done great things and made the world a better place. In my mind, the best thing I can do to honor her memory is to take the lifetime I have been given and to make a difference, to live with joy and with compassion for others and for myself.
*This recipe was developed as part of a virtual pumpkin party hosted by Sara of Cake over Steak. Each participant contributed a pumpkin themed recipe. You can find the full list of recipes here.
ROASTED PUMPKIN WITH TAMARIND AND CORIANDER CHUTNEY
1 sugar pie pumpkin, seeds removed, cut into 1-inch wedges
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 dates, pitted
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
toasted sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Toss the pumpkin wedges with the olive oil and salt and spread on the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes until the pumpkin is soft and beginning the brown.
Meanwhile make the tamarind sauce and coriander chutney. Combine the dates, tamarind and water in a small pot and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The dates should be soft. Blend with the cumin, cinnamon and salt and set aside. To make the chutney combine the cilantro, garlic, ginger and salt in a blender and pulse, adding water as necessary, until almost smooth.
Arrange the roasted pumpkin wedges on a plate and drizzle with the tamarind sauce, coriander chutney, sour cream and toasted sesame seeds.